Reader Q&A: How to avoid overtraining if you train BJJ 4-5 times a week.

I got this great question over the weekend from a blog reader who wanted some advice on balancing training BJJ 4-5 days a week with strength and conditioning training while avoiding overtraining. He also has to juggle family, a job and the fact that he is closing in on 40…things I am all too familiar with myself so I had some insights to share.

I thought this problem is probably something a lot of people face so I wanted to share my answer in case it can help someone else as well.

“Hi James,

I just stumbled across your website and am fascinated by what you talk about in your blog. I’ve been training bjj for 3.5 years and love it. I’ve done a lot of strength training over the years as well as HIIT for conditioning. For a time I was doing both when I’d train bjj M-W-F and workout T-TH-Sat. Now I am training BJJ almost every day M-F. I read your article about the fact that you can over train by doing both BJJ and strength/conditioning.

I’m 39 (married with 4 kids) and in better shape than most 29 yr olds…I haven’t done strength training for a few months but really want to get back into it….is that too much on my body train BJJ 4-5 days a week plus strength/condition? Also what would you recommend for recover supplements?

Thank you again!”

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Sounds like we have a lot in common – closing in on 40, busy with family and kids and strong addiction to BJJ. Trying to balance that with strength and conditioning can be tough…unless you have the right perspective on it.

I want to first clarify something about that article – I was trying to point out that you can overtrain from focusing on cardio as you main form of training outside of BJJ. Strength training is different and something you should have in your program. Long cardio focused workouts are of those things you can add in if you have the time and ability to recover or if you don’t get to train BJJ very often but for guys like us it is a bit overrated.

I think some of the confusion stems from how strength training has been morphed into another type of cardio training. A lot of program use workouts that have you moving quickly and testing your cardio more than your strength.

At the end of your strength training workout you can do 5-10 minutes of some higher intensity cardio but don’t overdue it. Focus your time on mobility and strength with a little cardio on top instead of the other way around.

This is also why I like bodyweight training so much since it is a great way to get strong without putting a lot of wear and tear on the joints. If you haven’t signed up for the free 30 day BJJ bodyweight workout program be sure to check it out, it has some great mobility drills and bodyweight exercises in it. It also shows you how I structure workouts to focus strength and mobility while also fitting in some cardio training.

I think that everyone should be fitting in 2-3 strength training sessions each week along with 10-20 minutes of mobility work/ foam rolling each day. The more your train BJJ the more important this becomes to help offset the overuse patterns inherent to BJJ and to avoid the natural decrease in strength and muscle mass that comes with age.

As far as recovery supplements, I don’t recommend much. I think that the most important thing you can do is be taking at least 10 grams of fish oil each day. Besides all of the noted health benefits it also helps control internal inflammation that can contribute to joint soreness and pain as well as support testosterone levels.

A post-workout supplement is also good to use since it helps speed up the recovery process from training. Add in a greens powder if you don’t eat enough veges and a protein powder for convenience and you’re set for the most part. Most supplements are worthless and sold on hype and the placebo effect so just focus on getting good rest and eating well to help your recovery.

I also wanted to share an article I wrote on why I hate the term “strength training”. While you should check it out, in short I point out how it gives the false impression that simply putting up bigger numbers is the goal, which is the wrong focus. If you focus on improving the efficiency of your movement then your numbers will go up but if you focus on the numbers you can miss the chance to really improve your efficiency.

And it is that improved efficiency we are after since that is what helps us on the mat, not just better numbers in the gym.

Strength training is super important for guys like us and along with mobility training should be part of the bigger picture for how we train for BJJ. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions about this or anything else related to off the mat training for BJJ.

Roll Strong,

James Wilson

BJJ Strength Training Systems

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